I went to St. John Catholic School, in Westminster, MD, from first through fifth grade. I wasn’t a very curious student. The most vivid memories I have of my education during that time include running from the nuns, playing tackle ball at recess, and being asked by Sister Sarah, after getting caught spit-balling in the back of the classroom, if I was prepared, at the early age of 10, to die.
It is the gym at St. John’s that I remember most. I was at home in the gym, where I played basketball for hours on end. The gym was cramped—a shot from one end to the other would be well within Steph Curry’s range—but echoed with cheer and character.
Two of the three schools which Afya Baltimore Inc. (ABI) operates are located in former Catholic school buildings. Afya Public Charter School (opened 2008) is located in the old Shrine of the Little Flower School in Belair-Edison. Tunbridge Public Charter School’s building (opened 2010) was once the home of the St. Mary of the Assumption School in Govans. Both of these schools have long and beautiful histories, much like St. John’s. Our third school, Brehms Lane Public Charter School (opened 2016), is in a City Schools’ owned building, also in Belair-Edison, and has an interesting history of its own.
As we renovate and take care of these old buildings, we aim to amplify our mission and infuse our vision of the work. We want to make these school buildings— which include gymnasiums, chapels turned into science labs, old oak church pews, stained glass windows, stonework that was quarried and laid by master craftsmen, bomb shelters, cupolas, spiral staircases, and secret spaces— our very own. We also try to respect our past, the history of our old buildings, and the people who lived and worked and played in them before our time. For a detailed history of these special places, visit the lobby in each of our facilities, and see for yourself the rich history we wish to preserve.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be releasing a series of blog posts to honor the histories of our three buildings. Enjoy.